Ap u. S. History Essay Guide for Unit IV



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AP U.S. History Essay Guide for Unit IV


The following DBQ (Document Based Questions) and essay questions are the actual questions that were originally found in the Advanced Placement United States History Exams that have been held since 1971. Learn from the past and anticipate answering similar questions on the AP Exam this year...

1. 1971 Exam (Question 5): “Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828 was the consequence of the rise of democracy rather than the start of a new democratic age.”


  • Assess the validity.

2. 1973 Exam (Question 7): Discuss the impact of the “transportation revolution,” 1820 – 1860, on the United States.



3. 1973 Exam (Question 10): Why did the institution of slavery command the loyalty of the vast majority of antebellum southern whites, despite the fact that only a small percentage of them owned slaves?



4. 1974 Exam (Question 3): Account for the emergence of utopian communities from the mid 1820’s through the 1840’s, and evaluate their success or failure.



5. 1975 Exam (Question 4): “The Era of Good Feeling (1816 – 1824) marked the appearance of issues that transformed American politics in the next twenty years.”



  • Assess the validity.

6. 1979 Exam (Question 3): “American social reform movements from 1820 to 1860 were characterized by unveiling perfectionism, impatience with compromise, and distrust of established social institutions. These qualities explain the degree of success or failure of these movements in achieving their objectives.”



  • Discuss with reference to both antislavery and one other reform movement of the period of 1820 – 1860 (for example, temperance, women’s rights, communitarianism, prison reform, or educational reform).

7. 1980 Exam (DBQ): “The decision of the Jackson administration to remove the Cherokee Indians to land west of the Mississippi River in the 1830’s was more a reformulation of the national policy that had been in effect since the 1790’s than a change in the policy.”



  • Assess the validity of this generalization with reference to the moral, political, constitutional, and practical concerns that shaped national Indian policy between 1789 and the mid 1830’s.

8. 1980 Exam (Question 5): “In the period 1815 to 1860, improvements in transportation and increased interregional trade should have united Americans, but instead produced sectional division and finally disunion.”



  • Discuss with reference to the impact of improved transportation and increased interregional trade on the northeast (New England and Middle Atlantic States), the south and west.

9. 1981 Exam (Question 2): "At various times between 1789 and 1861, Americans charged their positions on the constitutional question of loose construction or strict construction as best suited their economic or political interest"



  • Discuss this statement with reference to any TWO individuals or groups who took positions on this constitutional question.

10. 1984 Exam (Question 4): “Throughout our history, the Supreme Court has acted as a partisan political body rather than a neutral arbiter of constitutional principles.”



  • Assess the validity of this generalization for the period of 1800 – 1860.

11. 1984 Exam (Question 4): “Slavery was the dominating reality of southern life.” Assess the validity of this generalization for two of the following aspects of southern life from about 1840 to 1860:



    • Political

    • Social

    • Economic

    • Intellectual life

12. 1985 Exam (Question 2): Most major religious movements reflect significant shifts in religious beliefs and produce important social changes. Apply this generalization to TWO of the following.



13. 1986 Exam (Question 3): In the first half of the 19th century, the American cultural and intellectual community contributed to the development of a distinctive American national consciousness.



  • Assess the validity of this statement.

14. 1988 Exam (Question 3): “American reform movements between 1820 and 1860 reflected both optimistic and pessimistic views of human nature and society.” Assess the validity of this statement in reference to reform movements in three of the following areas:



    • Education

    • Temperance

    • Women’s rights

    • Utopian experiments

    • Penal institutions

15. 1989 Exam (Question 3): “Developments in transportation, rather than in manufacturing and agriculture, sparked American economic growth in the first half of the 19th century.”



  • Assess the validity of this statement.

16. 1990 Exam (DBQ): Jacksonian Democrats viewed themselves as the guardians of the United States Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and equality of economic opportunity. In light of the documents and your knowledge of the 1820’s and 1830’s, to what extent do you agree with the Jacksonians’ view of themselves?



17. 1990 Exam (Question 3): “Although Americans perceived manifest destiny as a benevolent movement, it was in fact an aggressive imperialism pursued at the expense of others.”



  • Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to American Expansionism in the 1840’s.

18. 1991 Exam (Question 3): Although historically represented as distinct parties, the Federalists and the Whigs in fact shared a common political ideology, represented many of the same interest groups, and proposed similar programs and policies.



  • Assess the validity of the statement.

19. 1993 Exam (Question 2): In what ways did the early 19th century Reform Movements for abolition and women’s rights illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in the Early American republic?



20. 1993 Exam (Question 3): Compare the expansionist policies of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James K. Polk. To what extent did their policies strengthen the United States?



21. 1994 Exam (Question 2): Analyze the ways in which two of the following influenced the development of American society:



    • Puritanism during the 17th century

    • The Great Awakening during the 18th century

    • The Second Great Awakening during the 19th century

22. 1995 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the ways in which supporters of slavery in the 19th century used legal, religious, and economic arguments to defend the institution of slavery.



23. 1996 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the extent to which two of the following influenced the development of democracy between 1820 and 1840:



    • Jacksonian economic policy

    • Changes in electoral politics

    • The Second Great Awakening

    • Westward movement

24. 1997 Exam (Question 3): Discuss the impact of territorial expansion on national unity between 1800 and 1850.



25. 1999 Exam (Question 2): How did TWO of the following contribute to the reemergence of a two party system in the period 1820 to 1840?



    • Major political personalities

    • States' rights

    • Economic issues

25. 2001 Exam (Question 3): The Jacksonian Period (1824-1848) has been celebrated as the era of the "common man." To what extent did the period live up to its charcterization? Consider TWO of the following in your response.



26. 2002 Exam (DBQ): "Reform movements in the United States sought to expand democratic ideals." Assess the validity of this statement with specific reference to the years 1825-1850.



    • Use the following documents and your knowledge of the period 1825-1850 in constructing your response.

27. 2003 Exam B (Question 3): Although the power of the national government increase during the early republic, this development often faced serious opposition. Compare the motives and effectiveness of those opposed to the growing power of the national government in TWO of the following:



    • Whiskey Rebellion (1794)

    • Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798-1799)

    • Hartford Convention (1814-1815)

    • Nullification Crisis (1832-1833)

28. 2003 Exam (Question 3): In what ways did developments in transportation bring about economic and social change in the United States in the period 1820 to 1860?



29. 2004 Exam B (Question 3): To what extent and in what ways did the roles of women change in American society between 1790 and 1860? Respond with reference to TWO of the following areas:



    • Domestic

    • Economic

    • Political

    • Social

30. 2006 Exam B (Question 3): In what ways and to what extent was industrial development from 1800 to 1860 a factor in the relationship between the northern and southern states?



31. 2006 Exam (DBQ): Discuss the changing ideals of American womanhood between the American Revolution (1770's) and the outbreak of the Civil War. What factors fostered the emergence of "republican motherhood" and the "cult of domesticity"? Assess the extent to which these ideals influenced the lives of women during this period. In your answer be sure to consider issues of race and class.



    • Use the documents and your knowledge of the time period in constructing your response.

32. 2007 Exam B (Question 3): Compare the experiences of TWO of the following groups of immigrants during the period 1830 to 1860.



    • English

    • Irish

    • German

33. 2007 Exam (Question 3): In what ways did the Second Great Awakening in the North influence TWO of the following?



34. 2008 Exam B (Question 3): Use TWO of the following categories to analyze the ways in which African-Americans created a distinctive culture in slavery.



    • Family

    • Music

    • Oral traditions

    • Religions

35. 2008 Exam (Question 3): Analyze the impact of the market revolution (1815 - 1860) on the economies of TWO of the following regions.




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